Living in a Theme House: What is Commons College? | St. Lawrence University

Living in a Theme House: What is Commons College?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

St. Lawrence is unique in many ways. Not only are we home to the only revolving door in the North Country and have the largest squirrel population known to mankind, but we also offer students the opportunity to live in theme houses.

What is this so-called “theme house” that I am speaking of? After my 2.75 years at SLU, I have decided the best way to describe a theme house is comparable to the idea of a co-ed fraternity or sorority that embodies a common theme. St. Lawrence University currently has 13 different theme houses that are located both on and off campus.

Here is my attempt at naming them all:

  • Commons College
  • The Outing Club
  • The Green House
  • Campus Kitchens
  • The Dub
  • Java House
  • The Arts Annex
  • The Power House
  • La Casa
  • Black Student Union
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • The Lighthouse
  • The Hub

During my sophomore fall, I was given the extraordinary opportunity to become a member of Commons College. Our theme is “living and learning together”; we embody this mission statement by taking a class together every Sunday night with our Commons professor, Josh Exoo, who also teaches a First-Year Program and First-Year Seminar course. At the beginning of each semester, Commoners along with Josh decide on a topic and build a fluid syllabus that allows each house- member to lead a class. I have lived in Commons for three semesters now and in that time we have taken courses on Documentaries, Immigration Policy and Mental Health. Another component of our theme house is community outreach. Over many years, the members of Commons have built a strong relationship with the Little River School, a local alternative-learning-school. House members conduct monthly visits with the students where we plan and participate in fun activities with them. We also organize multiple fundraisers throughout the year to help raise money for Little River. Steve Molnar, the director of the school puts on monthly climate vigils in Canton that the members of Commons always make an effort of participating in.

Being a member of the theme house community and living in Commons College has added a tremendous amount of value to my St. Lawrence experience. I believe that one of the best parts about St. Lawrence is its student-body size. With a population just shy of 2,500, it minimizes the opportunity for clicks and exclusive groups to form. Having a small community releases the pressure to join a sorority/fraternity, theme house, or be a part of any specific social group for that matter. You can truly exist in any space on campus and feel like you are a member of an inclusive environment.

One of the coolest parts about living in Commons College is the 24 house members that I have the pleasure of sharing a home with. The eclectic group of individuals that live within this space is what makes it so unique and special – all coming from different backgrounds and corners of campus but sharing one common space. I love coming home every night to a house full of open-minded, kind, fun, and caring individuals that offer continuous support and friendship. Not only has Commons introduced me to some of my very best friends, but it has also given me a sense of belonging.

I love encouraging all different types of people at St. Lawrence to apply to Commons College because that is what makes this place so special – the incredible, different types of individuals that live behind the four white pillars at 78 Park Street.